In an NFL landscape where DeAngelo Williams got a five year, $43 million contract, it's hard to say Matt Forte isn't worth a similar annual value over four.
I hate the thought of giving long-term, big-money deals to running backs. They break down too frequely as they age. They often are replaced by cheap no-names who match or exceed the production of the cap-killing stars they replace. Other than closers in baseball, running backs might be the worst position in professional sports in which a team can invest its resources.
But assuming what the Sun-Times' Sean Jensen first broke is true, this isn't that bad for the Bears. ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that the four-year deal is worth around $8 million per season. It's no great bargain, but it's not a terrible price, nor is it a terrible length for a 26-year-old running back. Forte's prime may end before this contract does, but there's a very good chance he won't be an over-the-hill shell of his former self in year four, either.
There's plenty of good that should come out of this. It means Forte's contract situation won't be an ongoing topic of discussion throughout training camp and the season. It means the Bears front office probably bought itself some cred in the locker room, as Forte's teammates are probably going to be thrilled to see one of their own be rewarded. Most importantly, it means running back should be a position of great strength for the Bears in the next few seasons, as Forte is a dynamic star and new backup Michael Bush is one of the top reserves in the league.
So, while there aren't many instances in which I'd be happy to see my favorite team commit what I'm sure will be many millions of guaranteed dollars to a back over several years, this might be the exception. Today is a pretty good day for the Bears. At least it may seem that way until an injured Forte loses his job to a more productive undrafted free agent midway through the 2015 season.